Lesson 1, Topic 1
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Third-party Verification by VVB

VVB Appointment

This process is similar to the one described in Lesson 4 for the Third-party Validation during the Preliminary Design Review. A Project Developer may engage the same VVB from that stage.

You may access the list of GS approved and accredited VVBs with the following link:

Validation & Verification Bodies – Gold Standard for the Global Goals

After the appointment of the VVB, the Project Developer is responsible for submitting a completed Project Design Document (PDD) and all relevant supporting documentation for VVB verification.

To undergo this assessment, projects must meet the following criteria:

  • Hold the status of “Gold Standard Project Design Certified”
  • Identify, contract, and compensate the VVB for carrying out the verification process
  • Submit a comprehensive Monitoring Report (MR) along with all relevant supporting documentation for the VVB’s verification process.

Project Verification by VVB

Independent assessment conducted by an accredited validation and verification body (VVB) is an important element of the GS4GG assurance model. This third-party assessment takes place during the Preliminary Design Review and Performance Review processes. The objective of the former is achieving Design Certification (Validation) while the latter aims at achieving Performance Certification (Verification).

At both stages, the GS-VVB would need to perform a desk review and field visit. The expected output is the independent confirmation that the project is in line with the Gold Standard Requirements.

To provide consistent project assessment, Gold Standard provides a Validation and Verification Standard (version 1.0; published on 06.03.2023) for accredited VVBs to follow.

VVBs, who are well-versed in the program and technical aspects of the sector they audit, assess whether a project complies with all the regulations and standards set forth by Gold Standard during the validation process. After completing the validation process, the project owner can then apply for registration with the relevant program.

Note: This process as it relates to a Programme of Activities (PoA) will be addressed in a separate lesson.

Desk Review

As part of the Preliminary Design Review process, the Gold Standard performs a desk review of the completed Project Design Document (PDD). The purpose of this review is to assess the project’s potential to meet the Gold Standard Requirements and advance to the Project Design Review and achieve Design Certified status.

Field Visit

Optional during the Preliminary Design Review stage.

The objective of a field visit is to ensure that project activities are executed in accordance with the planned descriptions. Typically, this entails engaging with project personnel, interacting with participants, and observing the ongoing activities.

A Third-party Validation (during Design Certification or Design Certification Renewal) of a project does not require a mandatory physical site visit by the VVB. However, a physical site visit by VVB is obligatory for the initial verification of a project (see Lesson 6 on Performance Review for more information). In addition, if the project developer and VVB choose to combine Preliminary Design Review with the first verification of the Performance Review, the first physical site visit may encompass both validation and verification audits.

Within 2 years from the commencement of the project, it is necessary to conduct on-site visits, followed by subsequent visits every 3 years. Provided that certain conditions are fulfilled, all other validations and verifications can be conducted remotely.

Remote Field Visit

Remote audit techniques involve incorporating appropriate technology, such as smartphones, wearable technologies, and other devices, to gather and transmit information for assessments, both locally and remotely.

Therefore, Gold Standard has mainstreamed remote assessments and audit techniques as credible alternatives to supplement physical site visits.

It is important to note that remote audit approaches do not imply a reduction in audit requirements or quality, nor an increase in audit costs. Remote audit techniques can complement existing site visit obligations, providing flexibility to projects within the rules and requirements of the Gold Standard for the Global Goals (GS4GG).

Considering the interplay and dependencies between physical site visits and remote audits, it is crucial to develop new requirements and procedures. For example, clear timelines for remote and follow-up audits and a well-defined scope of criteria covered in different audit types should be established. Gold Standard intends to retain minimum physical site visit requirements for validation and verification events while allowing remote audits for other occasions.

Note: The remote assessment requirements outlined in this section are not applicable to the following, due to their separate design and development:

  • Land Use & Forest Projects
  • Programs of Activities (PoAs), including microscale PoAs

VVB Final Verification Report

After the VVB has provided a positive verification opinion, it can submit to GS (SustainCERT) for Project Performance Certification:

  • VVB approved Project Design Document (PDD).
  • VVB Final Validation Report.
  • Pay the Design Review Fee.